By TOM BOSWELL - goldcoastbulletin.com.au
Southport president Alan Mackenzie witnessed all of the Sharks 13 QAFL premierships and says this year’s NEAFL team will have their own unique place in the club’s proud history.
Mackenzie has been the president of the Sharks since 1974 and can still recall the dominant Southport players and teams who made the club a powerhouse in the QAFL between 1983 and 2008.
Ten years on from their last flag and Southport are playing in a competition featuring four AFL clubs and teams representing other states including NSW, ACT and the Northern Territory.
Mackenzie said the difficulty of the NEAFL format, the unpredictable nature of AFL reserves sides and the fact Southport fielded nearly a complete new team in 2018 had made their journy back to the top as special as any.
“There have been some very good Sharks teams going back into the QAFL days in the 1980s and 90s,” Mackenzie said as Southport prepares to play Sydney Swans in the grand final this Sunday at Fankhauser Reserve.
“This has been a terrific group because they have all come together and played against some quality opposition.
“The recruiting went up a level this year and they all came from a variety of places. They came together and played extremely well as a team.
“It’s great to be back at the top. It’s been a long time since we have been ina grand final so it’s been a welcome return. It’s a surprise from where we were last year (ninth) but it’s a credit to the way the players and coaches have come together.”
Dr Alan Mackenzie at Southport Sharks. Picture: Richard Gosling
Mackenzie praised head coach Stephen Daniel and assistants Aaron Cornelius and Matt Lappin for their ability to turn the club’s on-field results so quickly.
“The coaching staff have been great,” Mackenzie said.
“Steve has been excellent and both Matty and Aaron have been good and worked well together.
“They have kept the players to a very good game plan that the players have been good enough to stick to every week basically.”
Mackenzie said the NEAFL team’s success had influenced all areas of the club which welcomed an influx of spectators for the preliminary final against Aspley that the president hadn’t seen in years.
“It’s certainly given those of us who have been around a while a little bit of spring in our step that we haven’t had in a while,” Mackenzie said.
“It has been a while since we have had crowds this good and there are a lot of peope barracking for us.”
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